MUTÔ-DORI – 無刀捕 – PART 2

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( MUTÔ-DORI – 無刀捕 – PART 1 )

“Slow is smooth – smooth is invisible” ” gokui ” (极 ) ” or last state of transmission of the masters.

There are three points in common that we can find in the transmission of the currents of the Japanese classical martial arts in the moment of explain the levels of “Mutô-dori” “无 刀 捕”. These points converge in an extreme of supreme control of the technique and of the strategy (“Heiho” or “Hyoho” – “兵法” – Note 1) transferred and transmitted by the masters.

Nevertheless before exposing the first one of these three points, I would like to stress the importance of a phrase repeated by the masters in his transmission. This phrase will serve us as point of union of the “one with the whole and the whole with the one”” or of the comprehension of the paradigm “from the unit to the multiplicity ” so importantly in the martial arts. This phrase will serve us to aspire to express with words an art that resides in the shades, and that only can be illuminated across the personal experience of a direct practice in communion with a master and his current of transmission – “ryû” (流).

The phrase is “Shoden” “初 伝” is “okuden” “奥 伝” and “okuden” is “Shoden”. (“Shoden” or initial transmission, “chuden” “中 伝” or central transmission and “okuden” as secret or mysterious transmission).

In the martial science passed from generation to generation, lies the mystery and science of that any technique is connected and linked with all the other techniques, either of the same level or a different level of depth. For example a current structured in the technical levels of “Shoden”, “chuden” and “okuden”, is based on the connection of all his techniques and levels, either technical or strategic level, or in the execution of a technique with any type of traditional weapon. Definitively all and each one of the techniques have a connection of the “one with the whole and the whole in one” of the current “ryu” (流).

However, and here comes the interesting, the levels of “Mutô dori “are usually not shown in the dôjô, as I explained in the first part “This transfer of martial information Between master and pupil is Known under the terms of ” gokui “(极 意 ) “essential principle” that can be interpreted as the “last state” or with the term “ura waza” (里 技), that we can be interpreted as “reverse technique”. Therefore only they will be able to gain access to this transmission the disciples that they have demonstrated their technical expertise, physical and mental endurance and a human quality capable to understand the depth and experience of the master.

In effect we are speaking that the master reveals the secrets and mysteries of his art, something achieved across of the blood, the tears and the losses of loves ones in the way of the development of an artistic science that resides in the space of the life and the death of the battlefield, and of course in the space of the privacy of the life of the founders masters.

A science that becomes in an art when is transferred under the concept of “Ishin-denshin” – “以 心 伝 心” an interpersonal communication through of tacit mutual understanding, a communication from heart to heart or soul to soul. This communication can only occur between two human beings who trust one in other one.This honest communication (“真心” – “Magokoro” – sincere heart) transcend the master and the pupil, creating a door (“门 武” – “bumon “- the warrior door) of communication with the master of the past and all the martial current that precedes the current ” ryu “(流) of the” koryû”, opening a space for the next’s generations.

1 – The First point in common at the moment of approaching the level of “Mutô dori” “无 刀 捕” in a “Koryû” is:

A deep domain and a total knowledge of the biomechanics of the body and the type of movement specified in a “Koryû”.

This requires a unique and singular flexibility, not only in the body of the practitioner but their psychological and emotional state. The adaptability of the practitioner must be manifest and clear in his mind and heart, and this is reflected through of the flexibility in his “taijutsu” “体 术” or body art of movement. The ability to adapt to the moment, place, and the enemy, but the most importantly the ability to adapt to himself. This is regulated through of the internal flexibility; flexibility is a vital point in the practice of “Mutô dori”.

In this point is of vital importance to reflect that a “koryû” represents a condition of movement that seeks to conceal the forms of displacement of the body. Adopt a common position of conceal and to hide all the movements and positions (“Kamae” – 构) or corporal attitudes (“Kurai” – 位) that can be found in the classical currents of Japanese combat. It is important to remember that all this has been created in the battlefield and has to be understood and to be able to accomplish carrying the weight of the classic armor “Yoroi kumiuchi” – “铠 组 打”, and of course cultivate the same level and line of movement without this weight in the body.Not is a question of muscular force but of deep control of the movement of the joints and the bones.

Is transcendental assimilate that in all the Forms and movements in the techniques, is needed to eliminate all signal and reflection of physical movement , and of mental or emotional intention facing the armed opponent.The practitioner wants that his movements disappear and no leave nor physical trace, nor psychic trace to the senses or the intuition of the armed enemy.

These arguments of not emission of movements and transfers of weight of the body , we can be found in different martial’s currents and in different traditional concepts used by the masters in the transmission , like for example : ” Musoku no hô ” “无 足 之 法” which can be interpreted as ” Method of displacement without legs “, ” Musoku – nin” “无 足 人” which can be interpreted as “people who are not legs “, ” Kagefumi ” “影踏み” can be interpreted as ” a step in shadow “,” Mizudori no ashi ” “水鸟 足” could be interpreted as ” the bird’s feet in the water “,” Kieru Ugoki ” “消える 動き” could be interpreted as ” To extinguish the movement ” or we can simply recognize this concept in the name of the current, because his culture and art of motion is based on this invisibility of motion , for example Kage – ryū (影 流) , Togakure – ryû (戸 隠 流) or Gikan ryû (义 鉴 流) .

For give life for all this terms, is vital the “kuden”, “taiden” and “shinden” transmission of the master.

Inside of the transmission of “Mutô dori” is necessary add and apply the domain of “Za-mutô-dori” (坐 无 刀 捕), the domain of the techniques from any of the positions sat in the floor inside the traditional ways of sitting down in a “koryû”. – Note 2.

To achieve this, the practitioner must be willing to follow the rules of traditional movement of the classical martial arts, a rules past to generation of the masters to the pupils. The real journey of initiation and instruction begins at the time that a practitioner that is outstanding with an effective experience proven in a real combat, he can attest that in the area, space and dimension of movement of his master is a mere apprentice. At this time these movement rules are assimilated as a treasure of incalculable value for the disciple. How to pay this transmission of life? But is across an honor, devotion and passion for the art that the master transmits.

These basic rules of motion transmitted by the masters show the differences between the martial culture of traditional movement in the “kobujutsu” “古 武术” and in the “gendai budō” (现代 武 道) or in the sports Western of contact that we can find in the present.

The rules are the following ones:

1. Not using of spins hip movement in the techniques. The classic masters mention this during the practice as “nejiranai” which is the negative form of the verb “nejiru ” (捻る) that means to turn. The twists of the hips so common in the Western culture of movement and in the ” gendai budô ” do not exist in the transmission of origin of the ” kobujutsu ” and the original currents of “koryû”.

There are many examples of this, from the most basic to the most invisible in this art of movement where the hip is not involved and not take part in a movement of impulse of circular spin. For example: all hip rotation creates openings in the armor or obvious signs of movement in the “hakama” (袴), and the subsequent opening of vital areas of the body and of emission of information of movement.

In addition these turns cause the loss of the form of movement frontal and lateral of the body, so typical in the rules of movement of the classic Japanese schools, or cause the loss of the central line of the body or the weapon with regard to the opponent and the situation.

Inside the “Kobujutsu” (古 武术) there is he concepts like “Naka-zumi” (中 墨) , “Shinmyo-ken” (神妙 剣) or “Seichû-sen” (正 中线) basically is the concept of maintaining a centerline with your being, with your body and with the tools that life has to offer, inside of sanshin (三 心) this “sanshin” is an attitude of the being in spite of the external or INTERNAL circumstances (“omote” and “ura” / 表 里).

For this is necessary the transmission and the practice of a corporal attitude of the being inside the one, the unity (一) ,“From the unity to the multiplicity”. Shûmoku (撞 木), Hitoe (偏 身), Ichimonji-goshi (一 文字 腰 ) ,Hanmi (半身) and Ichimonji (一 文字) are some of the terms used in the “kobujutsu” for this corporal attitude inside the science of the art of the war and the art of the body movement.

2. “Keranai” (蹴ら ない) or what could be interpreted as no give impulses on the floor with the legs to start the movement of the techniques, not to use the force and the muscle impulse to initiate any move, this type of sports impulse it leaves signs that can be perceived by the opponent and cause a loss of economy of motion and of vital energy so important for can be able to carry the armor and the traditional weapons.

This is joined to understand how to use a center of gravity to the same height that the opponent or more down, and not to lose this control and domain of the weight of our body during the movement, which can be listened repeatedly in any class of classic “Koryû” as “Koshi otoshi” “腰 落” that can interpret like sink the hip.

3 . Elimination of the muscular tension to realize the movement and the technique, for example: not brusque and forced utilization of the muscular force of the shoulders on having realized the techniques.

As a proof of this exist for example the concept used by the masters in the “Koryû” known like ” chikara wo nuku ” (力を抜), that we can interpret as forms of contraction and muscular relaxation, articulate( joint ) and bony by means of the flexibility and the breathing (Kokyû-Ho – 呼吸法 – or methods of breathing for the martial arts).

In the technology of a “Koryû” there is eliminated any emission of violence and aggressiveness, in the encounter and the search of the precision and the accuracy. The use of the speed is eliminated in the encounter of the flow (ryû – 流) and natural movement, and this is a reflection of the no use of the muscular force and of the no use of the intention, in the meeting with the power of the synchronization of the movement of the body. (in another part I will extend this information).

These three points of common rules, pattern and Form (“技” – “waza”) of motion within of the “Koryû”, is important to understand from the concept called “Kofu Tanren” (工夫 锻 錬), a concept used by the famous warriors and founders masters of the “koryû” . This concept refers to the ability and talent to delve and go deep in the Form shown and transmitted .which has been practicing day and night, without creating a difference between practice and everyday life. The practical result of this deep way leads the practitioner to explore in intensity the extent and the dimension of the use of the body and the traditional weapons. (“Tanren” means: way for reinforcing and practicing the discipline of the body, creating a body as a weapon, in other words it is a concept that refers to a constant, a profound practice without end, one more time the secret remain in the patience and the humility ).

Only these three concepts and his domain are an art in itself, anyone who wants to understand in depth what is the discipline of movement within a classic “Koryû” .Should aim to go beyond these three concepts, much beyond of the domain of muscular movement that search force and speed. The classical martial arts deepen in the domain of the bone, joint and tendon movement of the human body, search for to the elimination of all weakness of intention or signal that can be perceive or tracked by the conscious mind of the armed enemy.

How but to come to the essence of becoming invisible? If it is not across a deep and meticulous domain of the movement of the body and his reflection in the internal condition of the human being.

In effect, the practice wants to internalize in the domain and the control of something deeper that the musculature, the art consists of achieving a domain of movement that could be kept beyond the youth, as the wine to more years more quality, depth and invisibility in the movement, this is the way of the masters.

The art of movement and his Form transmission must penetrate the soul of the practitioner, in the nature of his subconscious mind. Because in the encounter with an armed opponent / s, only work the pure nature of the subconscious mind, and the art of transmission and his rules goes directly to the center of the being of the pupil. Here the importance of the ego and inner work to access and make space for the art of the master and his current in our being. COPY IS AN ART.

I would like to say goodbye to this second part with some propositions that the masters use to light up (or enlighten) the way of his disciples, I hope and wish that inspire you to delve into the art and touch your heart, as it did at the time and does so with mine to recall when I heard for first time:

“Martial arts cannot think in words, all the answers reside in the practice itself, you have to listen and observe deeply into the image of the master, until the end”.

Note 1 – More information about “Heihô” or “Hyôhô” – “兵法” in the link: “ The art of copy the image of the master”

Note 2 – The practice of a “koryû” is built and structured in the absolute domain of the techniques in the positions of “han / an-za” (半) (安 座), two knees, one knee in the floor or position of semi lotus this “han / an-za” can be interpreted as a way to sit in peace and safe. .

More information about “Za-mutô-dori” – “ 坐無刀捕” in the link:


Note of the author: Everything written is written from the humility of a personal way, with a spirit of communication and expression with myself. I consider myself as a humble practitioner, student and instructor of the art. I am conscious of my basic and immature movement, knowledge and vital experience. I am in the encounter of my answers to my own way across of the practice of a martial way. If what you read is useful to inspire or to extend your paradigms of practice or of life, I will feel very grateful, thank very much for your attention and company to read me.

To the mountain it is possible to rise from infinite ways, and from all of them it is possible to see the MOON.

Most sincerely
David Esteban Guzmán

Source :

Photo de David Esteban Guzmán.

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